Panthers call up Orange County product from minor leagues to face Kings

Rocco Grimaldi

Panthers forward Rocco Grimaldi, right, drives as Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski defends during a game on Sept. 24.

(Alan Diaz / Associated Press)

Rocco Grimaldi’s day began innocently, if somewhat unusually, with a midweek morning hockey game in San Antonio.

But it ended with Grimaldi playing his first NHL game in Southern Calfornia after he was called off the ice and rushed to the airport to join the Florida Panthers for Tuesday’s game with the Kings.

Grimaldi, 21, who grew up playing roller hockey in Orange County  about 25 miles from Staples Center, made his NHL debut Nov. 1 and played in four games before being returned to San Antonio of the American Hockey League eight days later.

The Rampage was already well into Tuesday’s game -- which started at 10:30 a.m. -- when he was pulled from the game and told to head to Los Angeles to replace center Aleksander Barkov, who is ill. Grimaldi had three shots in San Antonio’s 4-3 shootout win.


Grimaldi played in 13 games for the Rampage, scoring three goals and adding three assists.

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